Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, transgender advocates announce revised policy for changing sex-indicator on identification

NOVEMBER 18, 2019

Action reverts policy back to the more streamlined procedure of past administrations

FERNDALE – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today joined with transgender advocates to announce that her administration is revising the policy for changing the sex-indicator on a driver’s license or identification card to make it easier for transgender people to obtain identification. Studies show that nearly 81 percent of the transgender population in Michigan lacks proper identification.

“One of my goals is to reduce barriers for marginalized communities to participate fully in our society. The transgender community has faced both marginalization and violence without proper identification,” said Benson. “This change returns to a policy that was in place before the issue was politicized, and that was utilized by both a Republican and Democrat secretary of state.”

Effective today, individuals who would like to correct the sex designation on their license or ID card will only need to fill out a form, go to a branch office to have their photo taken, and pay the $9 correction fee for a driver’s license or $10 for a state ID. They will no longer need to provide a birth certificate, passport or court order. The form is available on the department’s website at Michigan.gov/SOS and at all branch offices.

Joining Benson at the news conference were David Garcia, executive director of Affirmations; Jeynce Poindexter, transgender specialist/victims advocate for Equality Michigan and vice president of Trans Sistas of Color Project; Lilianna Angel Reyes, youth drop-in director at the Ruth Ellis Center and executive director of Trans Sistas of Color Project; and Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan attorney with the Nancy Katz and Margo Dichtelmiller LGBT Rights Project.

Reyes and Poindexter shared some of the difficulties the trans community encounters when living without proper identification and the benefits attained with it.

“For us, having a state identification that reflects how we see ourselves reduces trauma and stress when having to show your ID,” Reyes said. “It validates who we are, especially in a world where people and systems constantly devalue our identity.”

Poindexter added that proper identification in the transgender community helps fight discrimination and reduces the chances for misunderstandings when interacting with law enforcement, healthcare providers and others.

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